Reaching out builds strength in moving toward the divine

Reaching out to others is one of the more challenging things to do because it opens us up to be completely vulnerable. When we depend on someone else to be there for us, we release to them a little bit of our personal power and that is scary. It’s scary because what if, one day, that person no longer wants to be there in support of us? In order to be present with those to whom we’ve offered ourselves up, we have to trust unconditionally that he or she will not let us down regardless of our past history and experiences and regardless of our current history and experiences… That trust is utter vulnerability.

To be vulnerable can seem weak in a culture of independence and self-reliability, but in 2016090495110939-1truth to be vulnerable is to hold the strength of the entire world in the center of our hearts. Among the seven primary chakras (wheel), the energy centers of the body which are commonly recognized as traveling along the sashumna (very gracious) nadi (channel), the anahata (unstuck) chakra (wheel) is the seat of love, compassion and balance. Now I’m extrapolating a bit here, but the anahata chakra, the heart chakra, is located in the center of our energetic body. The heart chakra (wheel) is forth above the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras, and below the throat, third-eye and crown chakras, making our heart the space from which we send love out in all directions.

I know… I know, scientifically speaking, the heart is a muscle and incapable of feelings and yet, when we know pain our hearts feel an ache and when we know joy our hearts feel as if they are bursting with love. And while I am certain these aching and bursting feelings in the center of our chests can be explained away by some kind of logical physiological phenomena, I am also certain that I do not care. I believe that the metaphoric love in our hearts changes us for the better, because the anahata chakra (unstuck wheel) is the seat of our love, compassion and balance. I also believe that when we give our love to others we open ourselves up to all of the wonders offered to us by the Universe, and to me, that is the essence of brahmacharya (going after the divine).

In order to give into love and compassion, we have to first release from worldly desires and follow our heart’s true desire, the desire to find Brahma (the divine). This week, we’re going to leave you with a little practice of sending love out in all directions. Begin by sitting or laying down comfortably, in whichever position feels best to you. Close your eyes and bring awareness into your heart space and let your heart fill with an emerald green colored light, settle there for a few breaths. When you’re ready, let that light fill your physical body in all directions and settle there for a few breaths. Next, let the emerald green colored light permeate the boundaries of your physical body and fill your mental and emotional bodies, as well. Again, stay there for a few breaths. Finally, send the light our in all directions to all beings everywhere, do this in a gesture of offering love and compassion and receiving love and compassion. Visualize that light and energy reaching out in all directions for several breaths.

When you’re ready to end this practice begin by drawing the energy back into your physical, mental and emotional bodies, pause there for a few breaths. Next, draw your awareness back into your heart space and pause for a few breaths. Then, gently return awareness to your breath and then your physical movements. Gently wiggle your fingers and your toes and roll our your neck. Finally, bow your head and blink your eyes open. Try this practice for several minutes each day for the remainder of the month and notice how opening yourself up to love changes your perspective…                

Love can lead you through

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Every week I write a little something about a subject that I hope to know a little something about and I’ve been doing so through the lens of the Ashtanga (eight-limbs of yoga) for the last few months. I’ve been changing my theme each month, currently following the first limb, the yamas (restraints) and this month I began looking into brahmacharya (going after the divine), the fourth yama (restraint).

I decided to talk about brahmacharya (going after the divine) from the framework of love because I’ve felt lately like the world needs a bit more love and a little less desire, the true intent of brahmacharya (going after the divine) is to reduce our dependence on worldly desire in favor of pure love. Unfortunately, now my heart needs more love and less desire as well. You see, this week I was on the receiving end of a break-up, and the person doing the breaking up was the person with whom I honestly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life. It’s a little funny really because as you may or may not have realized I don’t just blog about the monthly theme, I make a real attempt to live and teach it as well. And October, my month of love, has somehow left me without it.

Please know that this isn’t meant to be a sob-story; I just think that it’s important to share with you my most authentic self especially in light of the fact that I don’t at all mean to portray myself as this all-knowing person. But, we’ve all been there, broken-hearted in some capacity and the messiness of a broken-heart can leave a nasty residue which in turn can lead to the closing off of one’s heart. To be truly vulnerable to love means opening our hearts up to both the very best that love has to offer and sadly the very worst.

Sometimes the essence of love, not love itself, is cruel and it harms (himsa). And in those moments, as a result of himsa (harm), there is a real desire to move away from Brahma (the divine) in order to distract ourselves from the pain. That is the true tragedy, not the loss itself, but our reaction to the loss which causes himsa (harm) to ourselves and others. By practicing brahmacharya (gong after the divine) we can help ourselves in ending these negative patterns associated with pain. Make no mistake, it takes a massive amount of work to end a cycle of pain, and we must do the work to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

The more we allow ourselves to choose our path as a result of hurt, the more we build samskaras (“psychological imprint”) with the ability to drive ourselves further and further away from Brahma (the divine). But, if we act with the intention to heal and continue to follow love through the pain we are better able to build samskaras (psychological imprint) with the ability to create patterns of self-love and self-appreciation. And self-love is the one love which will never end as long as we treat ourselves with compassion and respect.

Brahmacharya, but this is a family show…

Let me begin by saying that I am by no means an expert in all things yoga; I am no one’s guru – nor do I strive to be. Yoga is a practice for lifetimes, yes with an “s”; it takes time to cultivate because yoga is all things.  That said, I do have a point of view, one that is authentic to me and so week after week I share my perspective with the hope that you consider my point of view and determine what is authentic to you.

I’m prefacing with the above “disclaimer” this week because I needed to research, more than usual, what brahmacharya (going after the divine) really means. Brahmacharya (going after the divine) is associated with celibacy, the withdrawal from human desire, in this case a certain desire, in favor of drawing toward a higher power. While I appreciate that sentiment, truly I do, the research I’ve done has yogis extrapolating the ideas of this 4th yama (restraint) to mean the removal, or at least reduction, of all worldly desires. Again, this is something with which I am fully able to identify, to put it bluntly – all things in moderation.

And yet, I’m taking another approach to this week’s discussion, the approach of love. I’m not talking amorous love, although that certainly plays a role within the context of brahmacharya (going after the divine) – eh-hem celibacy… But, what I’m getting to is pure love, the love of all things. When we talked ahimsa (non-harming) all those long weeks ago, I mentioned a lovely phrase lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, which roughly translates to, “may all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and deeds of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom.” Ta-dah, love.

To love divinely means to love purely and to love purely means to let things be, withoutimage
fear or judgement. Think about it, if you’ve ever been a parent you know this already, and while I’ve never been a parent I am an auntie and shout out to all the aunties out there we know it, too. When we gaze upon our baby, or our sibling’s baby, for the first time our love knows no bounds. It is pure and kind and our primary objective for that new human being is to clear a path so that he or she will have the most amazing life, full of happiness and freedom.

We want that because to love is our nature, we are conditioned by experience and perception to choose to go against love. We, unlike what brahmacharya (going after the divine) guards against, choose to follow our desires and step away from love and unfortunately the more frequently we make that choice: to follow desire rather than love, the more desire overcomes us. The good news is that if Newton’s third law proves to be true, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, metaphorically as well as physics-ally, then the more we follow love rather than desire, the more love will overcome us in return.